The 29 Chinese fishermen and three boats seized by a group of unidentified North Koreans earlier this month have been released unharmed by their captors, Chines media reported late on Sunday.
According to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, North Korea's Foreign Ministry notified the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang about the release of the Chinese fishermen on Sunday. The report added that the released Chinese fishermen have since arrived in the northeast port city of Dalian.
The Xinhua report said Chinese Ambassador Liu Hongcai and other diplomats managed to secure the release of the fishermen and their boats "through negotiation and close contact" with North Korean officials.
The fishermen were seized along with their boats on May 8 by unidentified armed men in the Yellow Sea between the two nations. It is still not clear whether they were detained by North Korean authorities or seized by a group of kidnappers.
Chinese media indicated that a ransom was originally demanded for the release of the fishermen and their boats. It is not clear whether the ransom was paid in exchange for their freedom. Incidentally, China is North Korea's closest ally.
North Korea's disputed missile and nuclear programs have isolated the Communist nation from the rest of the international community. The reclusive Stalinist nation has been the subject of several international sanctions over Pyongyang's continued refusal to roll back on its controversial missile and nuclear programs.
by RTT Staff Writer
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